Monday, December 16, 2013

Ned's Retail Marijuana Laws featured in Boulder Magazine

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
The winter/spring issue of Boulder Magazine
If you pick-up the latest winter/spring issue of Boulder Magazine, on page 36 you'll find an article written by local author, Kay Turnbaugh. Here is a link to the full article: Colorado's 'New Gold Rush' The marijuana industry and pot-friendly towns pick their way toward the motherlode.
[Related Story: The A64 Chronicles]
Below is an excerpt from Kay's article which features some of the logic that went into the mayors task force and Nederland's retail marijuana laws.

'Cottage industry' in Ned

When Amendment 64 passed, those in the marijuana industry knew that there would be taxes imposed to help pay for regulation of the industry. However, many thought that Boulder’s ballot issue ushered in an unnecessary "cash grab" that almost doubled the state taxes. There's a "tipping point" where, if taxes get too high, people may return to under-the-table sales, something Amendment 64 aimed to stop.

In contrast to Boulder, Nederland decided against levying a local tax on retail marijuana businesses. Instead, Nederland’s goal is to legitimize an underground industry and make it easy to convert to regulated status.  

"If we take our local industry and legitimize it, the bump we'll get in our sales tax will be sizable. We don’t want to put an additional burden on this industry," Gierlach says.

He explains the back story: "When medical marijuana was legalized a couple of years ago, we had seven start-ups, but only three of them have lasted." The town realized that the cost of completing the paperwork and paying taxes was difficult. In the meantime, Nederland had become home to two businesses that sell equipment and supplies, like grow lights, hydroponic equipment and fertilizer. Those two businesses generate $1.2 million in sales every year, and the sales tax they generate has been good for the small town's budget. It became apparent to the town that bringing marijuana-related enterprises into compliance could be an economic boon.

There are public-safety and environmental issues as well. A mayor's task force began looking at the problems of unregulated marijuana growing. There were reports that powerful fertilizers were being flushed into the town’s sewer system. Growers would sell the best part of their plants—the buds—and discard the rest outside, causing dogs and possibly wildlife to get intoxicated from eating the discarded plants. Growing marijuana also requires an intense amount of electricity. Grow lights can use 1,500 watts apiece, and they need to be on for as much as 18 hours at a time. Putting even two grow lights on a typical residential circuit creates a potential fire danger.

"The goal of the task force was to make it easy and convenient to get the inspections, the proper wiring, to dispose of waste correctly, to have the proper filters for air and drains," says Gierlach. "There’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. We decided to treat it as a cottage industry."

The next step was to figure out how that cottage industry could sell its product legally. Amendment 64 provided the framework, and Nederland went to work on the details, the mayor says. "We worked on our code for eight months. It was rigorously debated, and we got input from the Colorado Municipal League and attorneys. We feel what we've come up with is a pretty good balance."

"It’s going to be a slow transition," says Gierlach. "We may have only one shop for the first year. After that, there may be more. I don't think we’ll see the full impact of Amendment 64 until two years from now."

This is an interesting 25 minute video about the history of the Boulder area mountain towns (including Nederland) featuring local historian, Kay Turnbaugh. It's a program moderated by Ralph Gregory on Boulder's public access channel: Deliberate Conversations: What You May Not Know About Boulder's Mountain Towns:

Deliberate Conversations - What You May Not Know About Boulder's Mountain Towns! from Boulder, Colorado on Vimeo.
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